To Make Most of Photo Merchandise Opportunity, Don’t Skimp on the Details

David Haueter
Mar 29, 2013

The adoption of photo merchandise products into the mass market may not be happening as quickly or on as broad a scale as many in the photo market had hoped, but InfoTrends is seeing in our research that these products are getting more penetration into the U.S. market. In the consumer survey portion of our U.S. Photo Merchandise End-User Survey, InfoTrends found that over 37% of respondents said they had purchased photo merchandise items in the last year, with the survey specifically asking about photo books, photo cards, photo calendars and specialty photo prints (which includes canvas, photo panels, collage prints and posters/enlargements over 11” x 14”). This was up from just over 32% in our 2011 survey, so there was a notable increase in the buyer population.

It’s great to see that more people are buying photo merchandise, but there is still a lot of opportunity to bring new buyers into the market. In that same study mentioned above, we asked the entire survey population of over 1,500 people if they plan to buy photo merchandise products in the next 12 months. Photo cards were the most likely product to be purchased, followed by specialty photo prints. There are still a sizable percentage of respondents that don’t plan to buy anything, but an average of around 24% said “maybe,” and it’s this group that needs to be reached. InfoTrends research has consistently shown that once someone buys photo merchandise, there’s a very good likelihood that they will buy again, so getting them to make that first purchase is key.

Many buyers are influenced into making their first purchase through “word-of-mouth” advertising or from seeing a product sample in the store. Getting samples in front of customers and promoting the product personally is a great way to encourage sales, but it needs to be done the right way. We’ve seen several retail stores (including national chains that have a broad reach into the consumer market) that simply don’t have photo product display areas that are appealing to customers. The photo shown below was taken in a major retail chain in the San Francisco area and is a perfect example of how not to do it, with a dirty photo kiosk shoved in a corner between a soda cooler and a lottery ticket machine. This retailer has either clearly given up on providing photo services to customers or doesn’t put any effort into making the experience a good one for those that want to buy.

Presentation and professionalism need to be practiced on a daily basis in the photo area within retail stores, with a space that is inviting, products that people would actually want to buy out on display and a live person that’s easily accessible. These are relatively simple things in the big scheme of things, but may be the difference between gaining a new customer or having a customer turn around and walk out the door.

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